Micro-news for CT 4601, Altadena, CA

Crime Wave?

posted by Jeremiah 1/30/2006 05:49:00 PM

Hey, I thought this was a crime free area! What's up with this? First the reports from last month and now this. According to Nick, the owner of our local lunch stop, Everest Burger got broken into and robbed the night before last. They were installing the new glass today at lunch time. I snapped some pics of the smashed door with my phone.

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At 2/01/2006 5:13 PM, Anonymous doris finch said...

Hi, Doris Finch checking in again, with the long view. In my 33 years here, I've seen patches of crime come and go, mostly petty, some horrific, such as the body dumped on Pinecrest in the late 70's or the mother of four shot to death early in the morning on her way to the car [10 years ago at most], just west of Altadena Dr. near Eaton Canyon. We've had prowlers and juvenile break-ins on Crescent, Bowring, Pinecrest etc. The sherriff will tell you that we are about as safe as it gets though. It is just that our world has an irreducible portion of nastiness. Bottom line: Use reasonable precaution, lock doors, keep in touch with your close neighbors and watch out for each other. Altadena is still a very special place.
PS. Your [potential] new neighbor sounds pretty cool, just what we need here. Hope her hay bale project will work and the hill won't slide.


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Seasonal Wind Storm

posted by Jeremiah 1/23/2006 11:08:00 AM

As you can see from this chart, we've been having one of our regular winter wind storms since about 2 pm yesterday. It really started to get going around nightfall, and then got quite intense overnight. Not too many people slept soundly in greater L.A. last night. So far our maximum gust has been recorded at 41.6 MPH. Lots of trees and branches are down, flaky power and utilities everywhere, the usual. These are the so called Santa Anas winds. Other reports indicate that we have not been getting the brunt of the Santa Anas, with other communities seeing nearly 70 MPH gusts.

Lucky me, I have not actually lost power for more than a few moments so far. The "logic" of wind driven power outages is never clear. For instance, I couldn't gas up at the local Chevron this morning and the traffic signals are down a few blocks away, but for once my utilities are mostly still up. My power has fluctuated enough to make the clocks start blinking, but all my computers, and network gear are surfing through it on the UPSs. I did lose one of my internet connections for a while, but my backup DSL is still holding.

Check out this 3.7MB video of the anemometer going nuts.

Here's another 3.7MB video of the blowing trees behind our house.

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Renovation Boom

posted by Jeremiah 1/17/2006 03:04:00 PM

If you live in the greater LA region (or maybe anywhere in the country for that matter), you would have to be particularly un-observant to have missed the hot real estate market. A look at the LA County Assessor web site can be quite astounding. I created the composite image at right by overlaying one of their maps on a satellite image of our neighborhood. The tinted tracts are ones that recently sold.

All this activity seems to be fueling an equally hot home renovation boom, no doubt spurred by the ironic fact that homes are "worth" so much, people who already own can't afford to trade up. Home equity loans, on the other hand, are a fairly painless way for home owners to tap into the real estate bonanza, without having to move out of state. Surely home equity is behind this flurry of additions and remodels. In our little part of the world, it is particularly obvious. I snapped these pics this morning in less than a one block radius.

"1 wall standing" remodel. Almost a new house.

Gutting interior. Enclosing back porch.

Nice addition on the front (living in rest of house).
But the big news is about the new construction that I heard about yesterday. In our neighborhood, the 900 pound gorilla has been the vacant "lot" on the west side of the street. Long time residents have seen for-sale signs go up and come down many times on this overgrown mud cliff. No-one ever thought someone would build there. When we saw a soil testing crew come and dig four deep sample wells a few months ago, we thought that would finally put an end to the discussion, and the unfortunate owner would finally realize that the lot was unbuildable and donate it to the County or a conservancy or whatnot.

Much to our surprise, the soil test came back "buildable". Look again at the image at the upper right corner of this post. See the tract with the little star in it? That's right. Freshly sold. So fresh in fact that it is not on the assessor map yet. This news according to the new owner, whom I met yesterday while she was inspecting the land. I am happy to say that she seems very friendly, she is an artist, and part of her mission yesterday was to spread poppy seeds on the lot :)

She says she does not have a building permit yet, and is still working on funding, but is planning on using straw bale construction.

I did these little connect-the-dots exercises on the survey stakes in case you are wondering exactly where the property is.

Also, for my own jollies, I made this hi-res composite image from terraserver. I'ts under 1MB if you want to check it out.

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Stolen car and burgled house?

posted by Jeremiah 1/05/2006 08:16:00 PM

A couple worrisome things our neighbor Isaac heard recently:
1. Right before Christmas a house was broken into on Windfall. It happened during the day. Not sure of what was taken or what happened.

2. Another neighbor on Loma Alta (between Noyes and the Rubio Basin) had their Cadillac Escalade stolen right out of their drive way. The thief must have had a key since the alarm didn't go off and there was no sign of entry (no glass etc). My wife's parents live down on La Paz Road (a mile south of here) and their neighbor also had their Escalade stolen out of their drive way the same way. The cops say that 4 were stolen in the area within a few days. They were found stripped out in San Bernadino somewhere. Cops think it might be an inside job with a dealership or a body shop.
Thanks for the heads up, Isaac. If anyone knows more details (without posting private details please) about these stories, we'd love to know. Stay vigilant, everyone. Sometimes it's hard to remember to treat security like we live in a major metro area, even up here in our little town.

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Critter Talk

posted by Jeremiah 1/02/2006 07:19:00 PM

Doris Finch dropped by today to report on her sightings of bear, coyote, coy-dog (maybe) and fox (past tense). Thanks Doris. We haven't seen anything with claws over here lately, but we do have a small family group of deer that graze our hillside. They are quite tame, so Norah was able to walk quite close to them and snap a few pics. Unfortunately the light was a bit low for our digicam so they mostly came out blurry. You can check out the ones that more or less came out here. (There are also some interesting recent insect pics to see at that link.)

I have been wondering if we should try to frighten the deer so they don't become too used to people. I remember in the story of Gentle Ben (a grizzly), when it was time to send him off into the wild, the boy tossed fire-crackers and things to make him shy of people. I must admit, I worry about tame deer attracting mountain lions further down. Our new kitties are strictly indoor cats. We lost our two previous cats recently, suspecting coyotes, but as Isaac pointed out, it could just as well have been the mountain lions.

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At 1/03/2006 10:30 AM, Anonymous doris finchI recommend frightening the deer for a number of reasons: said...

I recommend frightening the deer for a number of reasons, the cougar attraction being a big one. They can also be awful pests in yard and garden and their ticks do carry Lyme disease, though it is still pretty rare out here. My son, when hiking in the Sierra, was bitten by a deer tick [Ixodes pacificus, which I identified under the microscope] and later tested positive for lyme Disease antibodies. Luckily no symptoms. Lastly, have you been reading about deer attacks in other areas with overpopulations? One guy died of his goring. I've thrown away the NY Times in which the account appeared, but it was a pretty good source.

If I ever get the coyote image from my house sitter, I'll pass it along.


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Weather Underground

posted by Jeremiah 1/01/2006 05:41:00 PM

It looks like Altadena has become a hotbed for personal weather stations. As of today Weather Underground is displaying data from four stations in Altadena. I note that the station IDs skip a number so chances are we will see KCAALTAD4 come online soon, if they can figure out how to get hooked up.

Weather Underground Tips & Tricks:

1. Check out the new feature that allows you to view Personal Weather Stations using Google Maps.

2. Using a tabbed browser, open up each of the four stations in tabs. Carefully scroll each page down so the graphs are showing and all aligned with each other. Click from tab to tab and observe the similarities and differences in the Altadena foothills micro (nano?) climates. Note: If you have trouble with one of the pages being a tiny bit off alignment from the others, try reloading it. Some of the banner ads are shorter than normal.

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